It’s #GivingTuesday, and friends, you have given us so much! Thank you for the 17 years of support. Thank you for endowing scholarships, for filling tables at the Chef Off, for volunteering, for mentoring, for investing in this next generation of leaders who are driven, caring and creative. Today’s #ScholarSpotlight features one of our recent program graduates, Karen Espinoza.

Over the years Karen demonstrated her incessant drive while continually showing up for others.  Regardless of her rigorous academic load at Willamette University she would be the first of our scholarship recipients to offer a helping hand. This May, just days away from submitting her thesis (and college graduation!) – on very few hours of sleep – Karen traveled to Portland to assist us with one of our summer fundraising campaigns. It was yet another example of her innate leadership.

After graduating from Willamette University early this May I began applying for employment opportunities ranging from a laboratory technician to a research assistant.


The good news is that I have recently accepted a research assistant position at the Picker Lab, in the Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute department of OHSU. I am very much excited to begin working with the Picker team and contribute to the development of new and effective antiretroviral treatments for HIV.


This job opportunity will allow me to explore my personal interest in working with viruses compared to microbes (Which my Biology thesis mainly focused on). Working with the Picker Lab under the guidance of Dr. Afam Okoye will definitely prepare me for my next chapter in life, that being graduate school.


In the meantime, I have been working back at Willamette helping supervise two introductory biology courses and training current biology teaching assistants.


I want to thank the Foundation and everyone else for all the help I have received throughout my undergraduate career. I would not have been able to graduate debt free from Willamette if it was not for you, your staff/mentors and all the effort spent in raising more money for the scholarship.

We’re so proud of you Karen. We can’t wait to see how you will change the future of Oregon.

If you feel led to continue to partner with us you can donate here. If time is the resource you have and would like to get involved as a mentor or event volunteer, contact us! We’d love to connect.